by TERRY KONKLE
President, Rockford Area Historical Society
Rockford Educational Leaders – Superintendents
Construction on Rockford’s first high school began in 1869 and was completed in 1870. Students, however, did not begin to attend the building until the fall of 1871. At that time my research shows that O.O. Fletcher replaced E.J. McEwan as principal at the building and became the educational leader of our school system. Actually, he was a teacher, but he also did the duties of what the principal and superintendent would do today (2012).
For about the next 30 years, Rockford’s superintendent was also the principal and a teacher. At about the start of the last century (1899-1900 school year) when C.E. Smith was listed as superintendent, a different person, Edna Haner, was listed as the principal. Rockford has had both educational positions since that time.
Starting with the 1871-72 school year through the 1940-41 school year, Rockford had 22 superintendents. This means that for 70 school years, we had 22 different leaders. Since that time and including the current school year, 71 more years have happened. During those 71 school years, Rockford has had only four more superintendents. All four of them stayed at the job longer than any of their predecessors. Before 1940-41, Edmond Thorne held the position for seven years (1934-35 to 1940-41) and had the distinction of having the job the longest at that time.
Many Rockford people will recall E.J. Kleinert. He became superintendent in 1940-41 and did a fine job for 20 years. James Bale followed him in 1961-62 and remained for 18 school campaigns. When Mr. Bale retired, Joe Raymer took over and had the job for nine years, but was ill for some of his tenure. Present superintendent, Dr. Michael Shibler, took over in 1988-89 and is now in his 24th year on the job. He holds the Rockford school record for being our superintendent the longest. Three of our earlier superintendents only stayed one year.
Next week, Rockford principals will be covered. Also the names of the correct responders to last week’s Rockford trivia question will be given. There is still time to contact me with your answer: (616) 866-0530.
Finally, donations continue to come in to support the museum move. Please consider our positive project and join others who are helping our cause. Donations can be sent to: Rockford Area Historical Society, PO Box 781, Rockford, MI 49341.